Posts Tagged ‘Bennett Morgan’

Polaris Gears Up Off-road Production

May 24, 2010

A story in today’s Wall Street Journal (5/24/2010) outlines the moves that Polaris Industries is making to adjust its short ORV (off-road vehicle) production capabilities to meet the growing demand for off-road vehicles, especially its hot RZR four-passenger model UTV machines. Read WSJ story here.

Bennett Morgan

The story describes Polaris efforts to hike production as dealers moan about lost sales because of inventory shortages. One group of Polaris dealers I contacted reported selling 53 more RZRs through April this year than it did in 2009, 25 of which were four-seaters. “Supply is definitely a problem,” one dealer told me.  “If we’d had another 25 of them to sell, they would have gone too.”

The shortages are a major change for Polaris, which used to be accused of overloading its dealers with inventory. This year, Polaris expects its North American inventories to be the lowest that they’ve been since 1997, reports the Journal, although it doesn’t break out those inventory levels by product line.

Even though low inventories could hurt 2010 wholesale sales, it’s the right strategy, long-term, Scott Wine, Polaris CEO, told the Journal. “It’s a work in progress,” he said.

After reading the Journal report, I checked with Bennett Morgan, Polaris president and COO, about the Polaris inventory situation and its moves to gear up production.

“We are pleased to have had success in working with our dealers over the past few years to bring dealer inventory down to lower, more effective levels,” says Morgan, “and feel pretty good where we are today.” Morgan said the company is “tight” on a few key models, but he said Polaris is “working hard to increase our supply to meet growing demand.” He noted that the sales forecast that Polaris gave to its shareholders for the second  quarter was increased to 14 percent to 17 percent, compared to Q2 2009.

Regarding adjusting its production to meet the increased demand, Morgan said the company “significantly” increased production in the second quarter by adding staff and boosting line rates.

He said production this quarter has been increased by adding back additional second shifts at the plants in Spirit Lake, Iowa,  and Roseau, Minnesota, for off-road products.  “We have added over 200 hourly production line positions in the second quarter already,” Morgan told me today, “and (we) expect to add that many or more in the next 60 days.  We are also working overtime and some Saturdays.”

During the last couple of years, the suburban Minneapolis OEM has made aggressive strides to dump its reputation as a channel stuffer that pushed excess inventory on its overloaded dealers. The company’s innovative ordering system— Maximum Velocity Program— that it launched a couple of years ago, allows dealers to purchase machines every two weeks rather than twice a year.

Something like 70 percent of Polaris dealers are expected to be on the new system this year. That’s close to all of the eligible dealers, because many of Polaris dealers are too small to participate in the program. JD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas at
jdelmont@dealernews.com or 952/893-6876.

Investors In Powersports Stocks Enjoyed 2009

December 31, 2009

Harley, Polaris, Arctic Cat Post Hefty Gains

Investors who placed bets on the powersports industry last year at this time— and held steady for the ride through the year— have reason to celebrate tonight. I checked the performance of three of the leading powersports stocks this year—Harley-Davidson (HOG), Polaris Industries (PII), and Arctic Cat (ACAT) and each of them outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) by a wide margin in two cases and matching it in the last one.

It wasn’t a smooth ride, however, and it took a firm hand to stay in the game through the sharp downtown in the first quarter.  For example, while the Dow lost 13% in value during the first two months of 2008, Polaris lost 25%, Harley  dropped 21%, and Arctic Cat slipped 20%.

For the year, though, the Dow climbed 1,772 points from 8,776 on Dec. 31, 2008, to 10,548 at the close yesterday. That’s a 20% jump. During the last 52 weeks, the Dow ranged from a low of 6,440 to a high of 10,605.

Polaris, the Minneapolis-based manufacturer of ATVs, UTVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles and electric vehicles, posted the biggest dollar gain during the last year of the three companies I looked at. Polaris common moved from $28.65 on Dec. 31, 2008, to $43 at the close yesterday. That’s a gain of $14.35, or 50.1% over the year. Its 52-week performance ranged from $14.53 to a high of $49.74.

If you would have purchased 1,000 shares of Polaris common stock one year ago, your investment would have gained $28,650, not considering quarterly dividends nor any sales commissions. Now, wouldn’t that provide a nice party tonight.

Securities analysts who follow the Polaris stock like the management team lead by new CEO Scott Wine, and Bennett Morgan, president and COO, and a long-time Polaris executive. When talking about Polaris, investors also talk about its ability to quickly bring new products to market, its efficient operations that emphasize cost controls, and its growing ability to control inventories at the dealer level through its Max Velocity Program (MVP) which allows dealers increased ordering flexibility.

Harley-Davidson gained $8.53, or 50.3%, climbing from $16.97 at the close on Dec. 31, 2008, to $25.50 at yesterday’s close. Harley investors had perhaps the toughest time waiting calmly for gains on the HOG stock as the company reworked its operations in several major steps.

One move with immediate and long-term implications was  the new contract it won with workers at its York, PA, plant that  permits the company to cut loose nearly half the 2,000 employee York work force and move ahead with major physical improvements in the plant. The plant modernization will be aided by a stimulus package from the state of Pennsylvania. Harley said at one point that it was considering relocating the operation to Kentucky.

In its second big reorganizational move, Harley dumped its MVAgusta operation and it closed its Buell sport bike business.

During the 2009 52-week period, Harley stock ranged from a low of $7.99 to a high of $30.00

Arctic Cat common stock is played at a much lower level than either Polaris or Harley, but it, too, posted a nice gain of 20% during the period Dec. 31,  2008, to Dec. 30, 2009. It climbed $4.16 for the year, moving from $4.79 in December 2008 to $8.95 yesterday.

Cat had a tough year, partly because of its dependence on snowmobiles and partly because of the loss of Gander Mountain, its high visibility outdoors retail chain based in Minneapolis. Gander had been carrying Arctic’s ATV and SXS lineup in its major stores. Arctic stock ranged from a low of $2.40 to a high of $9.27 during the last 52 weeks.

Okay, so now you’re probably waiting for my forecast on the performance of these stocks in 2010. Sorry, I don’t have one. After reporting on publicly traded stock for more than 40 years, I’ve come up with one basic rule: Stock market performance doesn’t always reflect corporate performance, especially when you try to tie it to a specific quarter or other reporting period. I don’t have a clue how these three stocks, or the Dow, for that matter, might perform over the next four quarters. And if I did know,  I wouldn’t give that information away; I would charge a lot of money for it. Isn’t that what investment advisors do?

Happy New Year and good luck with your investment decisions. I hope your powersports stocks perform well for you in 2010 as these three stocks did in 2009. JD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas at
976/893-6876 or joe@powersportsupdate.com